The Windows of St. John's

Article Index

The Medical Window

THE THEME of this window is "God's Concern for Human Suffering". All through the ages God has sought to aid and direct man in his efforts to understand and conquer the many physical and mental problems he faces. As in all of God's dealings with mankind he is not limited by man's religious dependence on him, but uses men of all faiths and none - anyone through whom he can reveal scientific knowledge.

The central medallion shows Jesus healing the paralytic who was brought to him by four friends (three of whom are shown). First, Jesus forgave the man his sins. When the scribes questioned his authority to forgive sins, he raised the question whether it were easier to forgive the man or to heal him. Then turning to the man he said, "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose . . . and went out before them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:1-12) There are emotional problems connected with all illness. Some illnesses are caused by guilt, fear, and anxiety. Jesus first relieved the paralytic of guilt. Then healing followed as Jesus reassured the man by telling him with confidence to get up. And he did.

Standing by Jesus is a little lame girl looking on in amazement and wonder, "Perhaps he will heal me!"

The small panels in the border depict some of those who have made outstanding contributions to medical science.

Let us start with Hippocrates, called "The Father of Medicine". He was born on the island of Cos off the coast of Asia Minor in 460 B.C. The height of his career is placed about 400 B.C. He was said to be the first not to allow his medical judgment to be influenced by preconceived ideas. The Hippocratic Oath, taken in a modern form by all physicians, is attributed to him.

Galen of Pergamum, who lived about 130-200 AD., was a Greek physician. He began the study of medicine in 146 AD. and settled in Rome in 164 AD. He was the founder of experimental physiology and after Hippocrates, the most distinguished physician of antiquity.*

William Harvey was born in 1578 and died in 1657. He was an English physician who lived in London. His great contribution to medicine was his discovery of the circulation of the blood which "has been the basis of the whole of modern rational medicine".

Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 and died in 1910. She was born in Florence, Italy, and named after that city. She grew up in England. In 1854 she went to Crimea and was soon given general superintendence of all the British military hospitals on the Bosporus. She was "the effective founder of the nursing system in England" and had profound influence on nursing everywhere as an indispensable aid to the medical profession.

In the bottom right panel are shown Leonardo da Vinci [The name da Vinci on the window is an error. It should be simply Leonardo of the full name da Vinci - da Vinci designates the place where he was born in the Tuscan hills of Italy] and Louis Pasteur. Leonardo was born in Vinci, a village in the Florentine territory, on April 15, 1452. He was the main exponent for a school of art which studied the anatomy of the human body in order to portray in art the true form. His knowledge of anatomy profoundly influenced the scientific development of medicine.

Pasteur, a French chemist, was born in 1822, the son of a tanner. He made many contributions to medical science, including conclusive evidence that fermentation is the result of minute organisms, and that invisible organisms are always present in the atmosphere, which revolutionized surgical practice. He established the germ theory, and developed a system of innoculation against rabies in animals and man.

The panel in the bottom left portrays St. Luke, called in the New Testament "the beloved physician," (Collosians 4:14) ministering to St. Paul whom he accompanied on some of his missionary journeys. Luke was the author of the Gospel that bears his name and also of the Book of Acts. He was probably a Gentile convert to Christianity.

In the apex of the window is a scene in a modern operating room showing the surgeon, his assistant and the anesthetist.

In the lower field of the window are a microscope and a caduceus. In the upper portion is a church steeple surmounted by a cross symbolizing the spirit of Christianity in the service of humanity working with God to relieve human suffering by witnessing to God's love as he seeks to meet human needs.


This window was Given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Marion Sanders Emerson by her husband. Dedicated May 8, 1955.

*J.S. Pendergrast, reprinted by permission, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 edition, Vol. 9, p. 972.

** Charles Singer, M.D., ibid. Vol. 15, p 200.